Why are people so hesitant to seek help when they are experiencing difficulties in their marital relationships?
I hear from people all the time who say that they’ve been having trouble for five, ten, twenty, thirty plus years but haven’t really done anything about it…until now. Why don’t they seek help sooner? Why wait until the issues have become so entrenched and snowballed to be so enormous? I think the reason many, if not most people don’t reach out for help is because they see it as failure. Somehow, they believe that going to a pastor, counselor or even talking to a friend or family member about their issues means they are somehow inadequate at this marriage thing. And guess what? They are!We ALL are! Even if you’ve had the absolute best role models for a successful marriage (which hardly anyone has), it’s still challenging when you are doing it yourself. We all need guidance, instruction and the support and encouragement to work through and live out the intricacies of married life.
In no other area of life do we think we have to be experts without some teaching and training to become proficient. Would you think: I watched the best Olympic downhill skiers for hours on video so now I can go out and be an expert on the black diamond hills? Of course not! You need to get out on the snow and work at it, take lessons, fall down a LOT, start small on the bunny hills and work your way up to the expert hills. Or how about this one: I’ve watched every episode ofER, Chicago Med andMarcus Welby, MD so I’m ready to be an expert surgeon. Where’s my first patient?! For heaven sake, no!
In fact, we are neverexperts at everything. There are always things in life that we must get help for; that we need to go to the experts for. I don’t fix my own car (although some guys can) or cut my own hair (what’s left of it), yet I could if I wanted to learn how and if I got some instruction, training and help. Marriage is like that. We aren’t born knowing how to do it…we learn. Sometimes all it takes is a little bit of extra knowledge—like going to a seminar, watching a video, reading some books—things that many marriage ministries and authors provide. Other times it takes more than that and you may need to see a counselor or pastor to help you walk through and understand the issues. Just like sometimes you can injure yourself and a quick Google search will give you the remedy to a common ailment like a sprained ankle. Yet, if you crush the bones in that ankle, watching a Youtube video isn’t what you need to fix it yourself. You need to go to the doctor—the expert—to help you to mend and heal.
If you are in that place where you are struggling for solutions to the issues and problems in your marriage, I encourage you to take the step to seek help. Maybe it’s going to a seminar, reading a book, watching a video, getting into a small group or Bible study on marriage. Perhaps you need to find a pastor, counselor, mentor or even friend or family member for the two of you to sit down with and work through the difficulties. Whatever step you need to take, large or small, I encourage you to take it and not let any more weeks, months or years go by. There shouldn’t be shame attached to seeking help for your relationship any more than there is shame when you have to go to the dentist because your home remedy didn’t fix the toothache, or when you have to take your car into the mechanic because you didn’t know how to fix the carburetor. That isn’t failure. The only failure is the failure to take action when something is wrong and you need help.